Sunday, October 20, 2013

A few things.

First off, here's some lovely mood music by Heinz Kiessling you may listen to, as you read this post. You might recognize it. (You may also recognize this and this.)

And now, the things.

1. My Detroit Tigers lost Game 6 of the ALCS last night against Boston, thus ending their season. It was a good season, I would say; taking the best team in the league to six games in the LCS is no small feat. Still, you can't help but point to the glaring miscues and underperformers (coughcoughPrinceFieldercoughcough) and wonder what might have been. I think there's enough left in the tank for another year with the same core guys -- minus Jhonny Peralta, of course, but this Iglesias fellow makes some pretty nifty plays at shortstop -- so we'll see how 2014 goes.

2. I think my 0-to-100 "Do I ever want to have kids?" meter has clicked down a notch recently. It's somewhere in the mid-70s, I think -- tough to read the dial sometimes -- but I've heard a few stories told by current-parents in the past week or so which have made me a little more skittish. But hey, if I meet the right woman tomorrow and we're married in six months and spittin' out babies nine months later, would I be surprised?*

3. This season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is right up there with any other. Season 8 was a little shaky in places, and I'm not saying season 9 is perfect by any means, but they're definitely making high-quality cringe-worthy television. I'd say it's the only TV series I follow these days.

4. I had dinner with an old high school friend of mine on Friday night, along with a friend of hers. She lives in the NYC area these days, and the other person works in a highfalutin' finance job with CIBC, and I didn't pick the restaurant... so I ended up paying more for dinner there than I believe I ever have before. (With tip, and including two beers, it ended up being in the triple-digits.) It was at a restaurant which looked like it attracted a lot of Bay Street types, and I am definitely not one of those... but let's just say I clean up halfway decently, so it's not like I rode my tractor up to the front door and left it idling the whole time. (Besides, it's in the shop; it needs a new Johnson rod.)

5. I brought absolutely zero work home with me this weekend. This feels incredibly bizarre.

That about covers it. Next time, we'll take a look at the evolving situation in Syria, and compare it to Real Housewives of New Jersey. The parallels, you'll see, are striking.
* Yes, I would.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

American politics are stupid.

Today is the second day that the US federal government is, for the most part, shut down.

Let me try to summarize what's happened, in the most objective way I can.
  • Barack Obama got elected in 2008, and one of the things he promised he'd do -- and what people seemed to vote for -- was a dramatic overhaul of the health care system.
  • He and Congress put a watered-down, but still significantly-different, plan in place so that, among other things, (a.) people could buy reasonably-priced health insurance, and (b.) private insurance companies couldn't turn people away for pre-existing conditions, which they'd been known to do, a lot.
  • The Republican party, especially the Tea Party faction of it, hated this. By the midterm elections of 2010, this faction managed to get a lot of seats, especially in the House; from 2010 until today, the Democrats have controlled the Senate, but the Republicans have controlled the House.
  • In order for bills to get passed through both the House and the Senate, they have to agree on various tweaks and amendments that get made, and a bill might bounce back and forth a couple of times before it gets signed by the President, who can simply veto it unless the final vote on it is really big in favour of it.
  • Because cooperation between houses of Congress is required for anything to really get done, the government can get deadlocked if one house puts up a big fuss.
...which brings us to the present. House Republicans, especially the Tea Partiers, hate Obama's health care bill. They see it as "big government," an intrusion on privacy and people's right to choose health insurance (or indeed not to choose it at all). So far, however, despite the fuss the TP has put up, this health care plan has passed scrutiny with the voters (who re-elected Obama in 2012; even John McCain, a moderate Republican, has mentioned that recently), and the Supreme Court a few months ago said it was altogether abiding by the Constitution.*

There. I think that about covers the summary of things so far. Now, the editorializing.

As McCain pointed out, the US public has been pretty clear: this health care plan is a good thing. The Supreme Court said everything was a-ok. And because a few far-right nuts feel like they can take over the entire conversation -- despite the previous two sentences I just typed -- they've made this new law out like it's the worst thing to ever come down the pipe. (Indeed, a House Republican recently called it "one of the worst laws ever to be crafted by mankind" -- which, as Jon Stewart points out, puts it in the company of the old English law which would allow the King to nail your wife on your wedding night.)

Look, there are a lot of laws passed in any given jurisdiction in any given year. And yeah, this one is a big one. But just because a small number of Congresspeople don't like it, that gives them the right to hold up the entire business of the nation? (That is, they wouldn't allow a budget to get passed, which means the government can't spend any more money, save for vital things like air-traffic controllers and the military (of course).) Seems pretty bananas to me.

Which it is.

Because I'm fucking right, 100% of the time.